Virginia: Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam Publicly Announces Support For Marijuana Decriminalization
By Derrick Stanley
Virginia Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam wrote on Medium and in a press release yesterday afternoon that he supports decriminalization of marijuana.
Northam, a pediatric neurologist at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk and hopeful candidate for Governor wrote in Medium, "As a doctor, I’m becoming increasingly convinced by the data showing potential health benefits of marijuana, such as pain relief, drug-resistant epilepsy, and treatment for PTSD, By decriminalizing it, our researchers can better study the plant so doctors can more effectively prescribe drugs made from it.”
“We need to change sentencing laws that disproportionately hurt people of color. One of the best ways to do this is to decriminalize marijuana,” he wrote. “African Americans are 2.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession in Virginia. The Commonwealth spends more than $67 million on marijuana enforcement—money that could be better spent on rehabilitation.”
Although his views could be considered progressive, public opinion in Virginia favors even more reductions in penalties for marijuana possession. According to a poll conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University, “Almost 8 out of 10 respondents favored reducing the penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana to a $100 fine instead of a misdemeanor conviction, and 62 percent strongly or somewhat agreed that recreational use of marijuana should be legalized.”